Press Release

Minister Brian Lenihan brings more provisions of Children Act into operation

The Minister of State at the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Brian Lenihan, TD., has signed an Order bringing more provisions of the Children Act 2001 into operation. From 29July 2004, Sections 78 to 87 of the Act will be fully operational.

These provisions authorise the Children Court to adjourn the proceedings against a child who has been charged with an offence and to direct the Probation and Welfare Service to arrange for the convening of a family conference in respect of the child. In commenting on the Order, Minister Lenihan emphasised the contribution these provisions will make to the proper functioning of the juvenile justice system as envisaged in the Children Act.

Commenting, Minister Lenihan said “one of the most important initiatives, if not the most important, in the Children Act was to introduce into the Irish juvenile justice system a comprehensive set of restorative justice provisions. The sections now being brought into operation will complement the Garda family conference, that commenced on 1 May 2002, and which is an integral part of the system that has the objective of diverting children from further criminal behaviour.” The Minister also stressed the positive role of conferences in helping victims to come to terms with the trauma of the offences to which they were subject.

“Restorative justice is sometimes seen as a system solely designed to diverting children away from crime”, the Minister added, “but it also provides a unique opportunity for victims to be heard, to express their anger and hurt in a dignified manner and possibly to receive a genuine apology and restitution”. Referring to the particular significance of this Order, Minister Lenihan said that all the restorative justice provisions in the Children Act will now be in operation and he looked forward to bringing further provisions of the Act into operation before too long.